SAO PAULO Ė The Evangelical Church is continuing to expand in Brazil with its followers making up almost a third of the countryís population (31 percent), according to a survey released on Monday by the Datafolha Institute.
Evangelical worship is ranked as the second most popular religion in the South American country behind Catholicism, which remains the majority faith (50 percent), although in a clear downward trend.
According to estimates, Evangelicals could become Brazilís majority faithful by 2032.
In 1980, 83 percent of Brazilians declared themselves members of the Catholic Church, but since then it has been losing adherents in favor of the Evangelical Church, which has also expanded its influence in politics.
The study, published Monday in the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, indicated that most of Brazilís Evangelicals are women (58 percent).
The northern part of the country, which covers much of the Amazon, is where Evangelicals represent 39 percent of the population.
The rise of the church is a matter of concern for the Vatican, which last year in a special synod on the Amazon, approved a proposal to ordain priests who are married men in the most isolated parts of the region.
In the southeast, the most developed part of the country where the majority of the population is concentrated Ė estimated to be a total of about 210 million people Ė 32 percent of inhabitants declare themselves to be Evangelical and 45 percent say they are Catholic.
Evangelicals have also become influential in Brazilian politics, with a bench in Congress, and they were instrumental in the victory of the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in the 2018 presidential elections.
Bolsonaro is Catholic but has participated in various Evangelical events, has close ties with the most well-known pastors of this faith and has promoted measures in line with the groupís conservative agenda.
Among its ministers is the Evangelical pastor Damares Alves, head of the Womenís, Family and Human Rights portfolio who in one of her latest proposals has defended sexual abstinence among adolescents to avoid early pregnancies.
The Datafolha survey has a margin of error of two points and was conducted in December in 176 municipalities across the country. A total of 2,948 people were interviewed.